The Bartolo Colon Era in Atlanta offered a brief glimmer of hope.
In his Braves debut, the 44-year-old right-hander and baseball cult figure twirled six strong innings against his former team, the New York Mets, in his former stomping grounds at Citi Field. Eleven days later, he took the mound at SunTrust Park for the first time to toss seven frames allowing just one run against an underwhelming San Diego Padres lineup.
Then it all fell apart.
The Braves designated the 20-year MLB veteran for assignment on Thursday afternoon, effectively ending his tenure with the club, after that same Padres lineup tagged him for six runs in his return from the disabled list. The disappointing outing ran Colon’s 2017 ERA up to 8.14 after giving up 82 hits and 58 runs in his past 46 innings pitched. He had given up five or more runs in six of his past 10 starts for a Braves team striving to remain within striking distance of the National League East-leading Washington Nationals.
After Wednesday night’s game, Braves manager Brian Snitker remained noncommittal to Colon’s future in the rotation, but the writing was certainly on the wall: “I’m going to process everything tonight and kinda see what’s going on.”
Atlanta also considered moving Colon, who was first signed by Braves president of baseball operations John Hart in 1993 during his Cleveland Indians days, to a bullpen role, but ultimately decided it was best to move on — perhaps for both parties.
The unceremonious departure caps the franchise’s efforts to salvage Colon’s value after signing him to a one-year, $12.5 million contract this past offseason.
The former Cy Young winner immediately gets removed from Atlanta’s 40-man roster and can either be traded or placed on waivers over the next week, giving another team the option to pick him up. Assuming Colon passes through waivers unclaimed — the other team would have to take on the remainder of his contract — he will likely be released.
The Braves called up left-handed pitcher Rex Brothers from Triple-A Gwinnett to take Colon’s spot on the active roster.
Not surprisingly, the move also keeps impressive rookie and top prospect Sean Newcomb in the Braves rotation.
Colon remains 10 victories shy of setting the MLB career wins record for a Latin American pitcher held by Dennis Martinez. His poor performance in Atlanta stands in contrast to his previous six seasons for the Mets, Yankees and Athletes, where he threw nearly 1,100 innings with a 107 ERA+ and a 3.71 fielding-independent pitching.